THERE was one important Irish ritual that even super-efficient secretary Bernie Whyte omitted for Longford Show last Sunday, when the occasional heavy shower fell.

“I know we’re in the Misty Rolling Midlands as per the great Granard man Larry Cunningham but where did this rain come from? I had the weather app burned out on my phone, checking it every hour, every day, all week and I was sure the day was going to be dry. Serves me right for not putting him [Child of Prague statue] out!”

Despite the occasional heavy shower, the 80+ tradestands at this solid agricultural show provided shelter for the large crowds at the show’s new venue in Ennybegs. “Look at the crowds, the local community have really come out in their droves. It’s great to see Rose Hagan being driven around in the golf cart by her son, Cllr. Gerry Hagan, on whose grounds we’re on today. Such an accommodating and helpful family.”

The first Longford champion was the young horse victor: Tattygare Me Me Me.

“She’s by Arkan, who is by the late Arko, Nick Skelton’s Grand Prix stallion and the dam is by Iroko who also jumped to 1.60m. Longford was her third championship this year after Ballivor and Mullingar Showing Show,” Shirley Hurst explained about her 2022 Balmoral and Dublin winner.

Husband Adrian led the champion’s stable companion, Donnie McGale’s Parkroe Milly and this two-year-old class winner had a near-walkover in the traditional championship, an indication of the low levels of traditionally bred horses about.

It was a busy week for junior judge Catríon Page, whose home-bred Ganesh Hero filly Brookfield Queen C topped the RDS loose jumping qualifier at Tubberbride and is involved with preparations for Ballina Show tomorrow. She had an excellent mentor in Marion Condren and the pair also judged the following broodmare and Irish Draught classes.

All about Me Me Me: Adrian (with traditional champion Parkroe Milly) and Shirley Hurst with Tattygare Me Me Me (young horse champion) and judges Marion Condren and Catríon Page \ Susan Finnerty

“A great show, the location and grounds were fantastic. Bernie [Whyte] was so organised and really put an unbelievable amount of effort in to keep things running so smoothly, evident in the great numbers that turned up on the day. We could hear the live music from the show ring, which kept us tapping our feet through the showers!”

“It was a pleasure to co-judge with Marion - such a lady and she has a world of knowledge.”

Mary Dooner’s smart Sligo Candy Boy colt and his Huntingfield Rebel dam Pave The Way had a good day while in the Irish Draught section, Padraig Bohan’s Gortfadda Ruby Kingdom had another successful outing.

The 10-year-old Coolcronan Wood mare has earned her keep since her Leitrim owner bought her as a foal from breeder Sean Scannell. Young horse champion at the 2016 IDHBA national show, she won the young mare class at Dublin the following year and recently added another Irish Draught breeders’ championship title at Athlone to her tally.

She was shown by Padraig’s son Paul, a keen Hereford breeder, equally at home in the cattle rings.

The reserve champion was Crusheen Gentle Breeze (Inisfree The Holy Grail) owned by Louise Shaughnessy, another impressed by the midlands show.

“Who won it before?” Pairic McNeill, Moate Show, checks out the Irish Draught champion cup won this year by Gortfadda Ruby Kingdom for father and son team Padraig and Paul Bohan at Longford Show \ Susan Finnerty

Poignant win

While some of the Connemara classes were lightly-supported, nothing could take away from the significance of James Naan’s championship win with Mayday Arianna, bred by The Irish Field’s late contributor Ruth Rogers.

“When I saw Longford was taking place on Ruth’s fourth anniversary, I decided to repeat the schedule of four years ago. I took Mayday Arianna - the last pony Ruth bred - to both Omagh on Friday and Longford on Sunday. She was crowned champion Connemara again at both,” said the Fermanagh owner about his poignant win.

It was a good weekend as Arianna’s daughter Galloon Ray Of Hope (Galloon Rollover) won the Trailer Vision sponsored All-Ireland yearling filly championship at the North East Connemara Show the previous day. Aidan Larkin’s yearling Cregduff Lorna (Drumbad Fletcher Moss) was Tomás and Fiona Grimes reserve champion choice.

“Some of the classes were a little bit smaller than you’d like, but there was some really nice quality ponies. It wasn’t an easy decision for us both when it came to the championship but a very worthy champion,” commented Tomás, another involved in preparations for his local show, Ballinrobe (September 3rd).

A near-simultaneous championship in the adjoining ridden pony ring saw Caroline Crosby’s smart dun Cuba Gold (Carracanada River) win the Michelle Connell-judged championship, with daughter Holly on board.

More ridden champions from well-supported ridden horse classes at Longford included Shane Kelly and Neva McNamara’s Mr Top Hat. Bought at Goresbridge two years ago, the Watermill Swatch five-year-old was lightly produced with some young event horse classes under his girth. He found a berth this year on the lorry alongside the couple’s two children Ross and Camilla’s leadrein and first ridden ponies.

“After the second show, we realised it was too much for us at a show with two kids, two ponies and two horses! So we drafted in Melanie Horsman, Neva’s first cousin, and the results speak for themselves: two wins and a championship from four shows,” Shane said about their Dublin-bound lightweight.

Reserve was Charlotte Walsh’s Herobrine, a winner of a superb entry in the Treo Eile racehorse to riding horse class. Judges Leah Kent and Nina Doyle impressed by the standard. “Our champion was the lightweight and the good horse, they grow in the championship. Overall, the racehorse to riding horse class was the best class. You had Connemaras on one side and music on the other but that’s a country show!” Leah, a horse physiotherapist, said about the setting’s educational atmosphere.

Good as gold: Caroline Crosby’s ridden pony champion Cuba Gold with daughter Holly being presented with the cup by judge Michelle Connell at Longford \ Susan Finnerty

Honouring roots

Emer Lawlor and Zohra Smyth were tasked with judging the Frank Kilkenny memorial working hunter classes. Here it was a back-to-back double in the pony section for Gemma Whyte’s 143cms winner Shane’s Delight (Bradlieve Delight), ahead of Sam Dennigan’s Caresto.

The horse champion from the 80cms class, one of several sponsored by last week’s Breeders’ 10 contributor Colm Cuffe, was Anne Nixon’s It’s Miller Time (Prince of Thieves). Another experienced campaigner in Alicia Devlin-Byrne’s Gortfree Dancer (Gortfree Hero) stood reserve.

“It was a very nice track,” Emer commented. “The weather kind of caught us out but they’re working hunters! The champion gave a lovely round and had a beautiful gallop in the championship and the reserve also gave an amazing performance in the jumping round. Definitely a horse I would want to hunt!”

Presenting his grandfather’s cup was Jordan Kilkenny, home from the States for the summer to build up his supply of horses and ponies for the lucrative American hunter and equitation markets.

“I did a little bit of working hunter, although my brother Dylan and myself moved along to show jumping quite swiftly! I never met my grandfather but everyone tells me I look like him,” he said about his grandfather, a renowned stallion master and producer.

“For me, it’s all about remembering where you came from and to be humble,” added Kilkenny, who worked for Cian O’Connor for three years and now divides his time between Wellington and Bedminster in New Jersey when back in the States.

“Longford was one of my first shows so sponsoring this is about giving back and recognising where it started.”